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Amiga computer related discussion => Amiga Hardware Issues and discussion => Topic started by: on November 07, 2002, 10:43:27 PM

Title: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: on November 07, 2002, 10:43:27 PM
Struck upon an idea whilst thinking about the new CatWeasel 3 card. It struck me so hard  I had to go get a beer and drink it before I could feel my feet again ;)

I like the fact that such inginuity has been devloed that you can do hair-brain stuff like fit 6 PCI slots to an A1200 ( onlywith a PPC upgrade right?) and mouth the whole shabang in an ATX Tower. However I have a few problems wit hthis genius stroke.

1 - ATX towers are *dull* and *boring*, no matter how cool your A1200 becomes it doesn't look like one any more.

2 - It costs a lot - esp to fit the PCI slots (£180 - youch!!).

3 - I'd miss the old casing, I grew up on Acorn Arhimedes computers and used to have an Acorn A3000 (nothing to do woth Commadore - bloody confusing I know) and before that I had a BBC Master 128 Micro. I always stick by the fact that the keyboard/case combo, although a little cramped at times, is the most efficient way to pack a computer.

Scuse me if I'm going over old territory but here's my idea (not for those affraid of a soldering iron and a bit of case hacking):

Buy/nick a knackered old 486 in a full hieght destop case.

Remove the motherboard and any nafareous bits, hard disk and floppy might be useful - keep them also don't chuck the mother board.

Lash up an adapter to get the voltages required off the PC AT PSU (I've done it and i get the idea a lot of other ppl have to). I intend to put a page up on my site with instructions. Involves copious amounts of soldering and volgaes which might hurt ur paws etc. don't blame me if you get hurt yadda yadda...

When you've stopped trying to kill yourself/blow up your Amiga (I have a free A600 to do my testing on) with the PSU you should have a cable to power your Amiga 1200, quite a lot of it if you use a good PC case.

OK here's where it gets interesting and a bit theroetical. you need to find some IDC cable (flat ribbon), and some crimp on plate mountable 40-pin and (however many pins the A1200 clock port is - I don't know yet)-pin male sockets. Make up good long IDE cables that go from the drive bays in the case to the front panel, where you crimp ont he sockets. Cut holes big enough using plasic surgery and bring them out of the plastic facure (I suggest using those removable blanking plates as they are easier to swing about than a whole case/font panel). Put the case back together.

Now fit a 4 port IDE buffer card in your A1200. Get some good length IDE cable (one plug at each end is all you really need) that will reach from he trapdoor, out forwards and down to the ports you mounted on the front of the PC case. Ping off the trapdoor and lead the cables from the IDE card outt othe case, plug them into the case, plug the IDE connectors inside the case into a couple of IDE devices you want on your A1200. Also take cable from the clock port to the front of the case and in via a socket. Add a CW3 card (hang it in a PCI slot with something plastic protecting the contacts on the bottom from the bare metal case floor and maybe something propping up the in-board end) plug the cable that leads to the clock port into the CW3, the CW into the old PC floppy and there you have it.

With no motherboard to get in the way you could fit a great deal of stuff in the case. Develop a racking system and you could fit all sorts in it.

Idea is still devoloping and I'm no Amiga expert by FAAARRR so please hit me over the head and call me stupid before I try it. I thin kthe most appealing thing is it doesn't involve any modding of the A1200 casing. I suppose you could adjust the trapdoor cover so it would allow out an IDE cable while it was shut but that wouldn't be anything major or cosmetic.

OK I'm done.
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: The_Editor on November 07, 2002, 10:49:36 PM
Easier way ....

Get one of these...[img align=right]http://web6.scan.co.uk/Products/images/lores/39267.jpg[/img]

I just ordered it a minute ago.  Ready for my new Ami based system.
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: Mickey on November 07, 2002, 10:51:54 PM
Hey ed where do you get one of those?
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: The_Editor on November 07, 2002, 10:56:34 PM
HERE (http://www.scan.co.uk/products/)

But be warned... Its NOT cheap.

Just ordered it from Scan (or should that be SCAM) computers.

Cost...     £99
V.A.T.      £10
carriage £10    Bloody shame Ebuyer dont do it as carriage is free if you spend over £100.
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: Kermito on November 07, 2002, 11:39:23 PM
Hi ed,

Do you know if it is possible to find something similar here in the land down under?

:pint: Cheers! :pint:
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: on November 07, 2002, 11:47:37 PM
 :-o :-? :-(

Quote

Easier way ....
Get one of these...
But be warned... Its NOT cheap.
Cost... £99


Ohhhh guys.... get in the spririt.

This isn't the point. I was trying to suggest a low cost alternative to investing huge £££/€€€€/$$$ in a twoer conversion. It;s a nice case - I wouldn't mind one like that - but the reality is some poeple can't afford to walk out and buy a £100 case, £189 PCI externder and all the trimmings.

My suggestion was you used a 486 AT case (most likely free), a bit of wiring (probably about £15 max) and some of the commonly available add-ons for the A1200 (or any other old skool Amiga) to make an extension chassis. The toal cost as I calculate it is about £50. That includes a buffer card to split the A1200 IDE into 4 devices. I was not for 1 mintue suggesting you transplant the A1200 into the case or anything stupid. That'd practically be Amigacide.

When I joined the Amiga community yesterday I thought I was joining a community founded on initiative, inginuity and flexibility with a skill for developing genius equipment for improving old machines. To be honest as an Apple devotee your stuff makes me insanely jealous becuase, with 68k Macs, we have to struggle with crapply designed boards, scarce 040 upgrades and nigh-on non existant PPC601 upgrades. You guys are actively selling stuff to upgrade an old 14MHz 68020 machine to a PPC or 68060@66MHz.

Now when I try to apply my own sense of initiative (which has already produced an adpater to plug a PC AT PSU into an Amiga 600 without bloing it up ;) ) to a problem you just dismiss it like a little fly crap on your visor.

I'm starting to wonder wether all this new AmigaONE 'goes straght into an ATX case and has all the trimmings on the board - ready made' stuff isn't sending a few of you soft around the egdes. I sure hope not. I like AmigaONE - I think it's great and a big jump forward.

Those who forsake their ancestors forget those who built their empire, trained their armies, and raised their very souls, and become complacent in their seats as the floor crumbles beneath them.
                      - Mark Benson 2002

Anyway - does anyone have any suggestions or shall I just pretend I never posted this??  
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: Doobrey on November 07, 2002, 11:54:48 PM
Wow, nice case Editor.

Do they do them without those yucky perspex windows?

I`ve never understood why PC users bung plastic windows into cases..(maybe it`s more exciting to watch the CPU fan than it is using windows ;-) )
 Do PC users who have these windows also have windows cut into the bonnet of their car too ?
 Or maybe PC users are jealous that they can`t do half the hacks that the amiga can handle, and a bit of plastic is all they can come up with ?

Anyway, back to the original post, one comment I gotta say is to make sure the desktop case is wide enough..1200 mobos are long, stick an accelerator card in and they`re a couple of inches longer still.
 
Yonks ago, I hacked (literally) a PC tower case to take my old 1200, and had to mount the PSU sideways in the case to get enough room to take it!
 This was in an old AT case, 3 external 5 1/4 bays, and there was only 1/2 an inch between the end the Apollo 030 card and the top of the tower.
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: on November 08, 2002, 12:07:55 AM
Quote

Anyway, back to the original post, one comment I gotta say is to make sure the desktop case is wide enough..1200 mobos are long, stick an accelerator card in and they`re a couple of inches longer still.


ARRGGHHH!!! Oh god no - save me!!!


I don't WANT to put the 1200 board IN the PC it's supposed to be an *expansion chassis*! The drives and CatWeasel ive i nthe AT cas ea the A1200 sits on top. SEE??? I didn't think I explained it THAT badly, or is everyone just assuming that I mentioned a PC case so I must be doing a crazy 'move everyhing into the case? - it's never going to work' project?

What do I have to DO?

Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: WarPiper on November 08, 2002, 12:13:19 AM
It looks just like an Antek case, they could be had for about $80. US dollars.  check Antek web site and also ebay and amazon.com. you could get them with the clear side and a neon light for about $130. also.
 :pint:  :ak47:  :destroy:
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: WarPiper on November 08, 2002, 12:37:21 AM
Quote
I`ve never understood why PC users bung plastic windows into cases..(maybe it`s more exciting to watch the CPU fan than it is using windows  )


Come on Doobrey, you cant be serious, you dont think it nice to mod up the dull boring case? give me a brake,  I am a Amiga and a PC user, and I have to say that I have not seen anything real earth shattering about any Amiga case modes except that they either are nasty looking hacks that are held together with crazy glue and duct take or they are Brand spanking new, custom made cases that cost about an arm/leg, maybe your first born ect ect.....
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: SirStimpalot on November 08, 2002, 01:09:00 AM
@MacMiga

It's a fair enough idea. In fact several people have done similar some time ago. I know that, for example, Unitech Electronics offered a product called the Power Tower (or maybe it was the Tower of Power? Not quite sure).

At the time the 486 was a current machine, so it was a new case, with a cable coming out of it to plug into the power connector on the back of an A1200 (or any other 'wedge' Amiga, I guess) and it was wired up for SCSI. This was before all the various clock port expansions became available, so that's not an aspect it addressed.

A possible issue comes to mind with regard to cable length limitations where IDE devices are concerned. But apart from that, sure, an old PC could quite well provide some free/extremely cheap space for a couple of devices and electrical power.
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: on November 08, 2002, 01:30:24 AM
@SirStimpalot

At LAST - somone actually read it ;-)

Quote

It's a fair enough idea. In fact several people have done similar some time ago. I know that, for example, Unitech Electronics offered a product called the Power Tower (or maybe it was the Tower of Power? Not quite sure).


See - I'm not mad ;-)

Quote

A possible issue comes to mind with regard to cable length limitations where IDE devices are concerned. But apart from that, sure, an old PC could quite well provide some free/extremely cheap space for a couple of devices and electrical power.


Well I reckon the cable lengths would be acceptable if you sropped them out of the trapdoor and almost straight down to the front oft he case. I have a G3 Mac and the internal CD cable is long enough to practically mummify an Amiga 600 so I don't think the length is that critical, especially at the low speeds and A1200 is doing, unlike SCSI that gets excessively picky about cable length at higher speeds.

Thanks for banging heads on the idea. :-)
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: The_Editor on November 08, 2002, 06:10:23 AM
Sorry  MacMiga.  I speed read your article (I was on a bit of a buzz having just ordered the case).

Actually my A1200 is in a PC tower along WITH my pc.

Its called a EZTower from eyetech and it involved quite a bit of "Cut & shutting".  But even this wasn't a cheap alternative.

The main problem with mounting a A1200 Mobo is, as has been pointed out,  the width.  I dont think you can get a smart looking desktop that wide enough to take the mobo.... Maybe those old IBM cases might (But here not pretty) and you gotta be careful what tower you use as they put the psu halfway up them these days.


Anyway heres the link to the case I just ordered.

http://www.thermaltake.com/ (http://www.thermaltake.com/)   The case is a   "Xaser"  

For our Antipodean friends.. If you hunt the the posts.. or ask him directly...

VortexAU posted some links to these very cases from your shores.
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: on November 08, 2002, 10:44:38 AM
@Ed

LMAO -

Try reading it all again, I still don't quite thiunk you as getting my drift.  :-D
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: Korodny on November 08, 2002, 12:02:46 PM
@MacMiga:

Quote

I don't WANT to put the 1200 board IN the PC it's supposed to be an *expansion chassis*! The drives and CatWeasel ive i nthe AT cas ea the A1200 sits on top. SEE???


Yeah, but what's the advantage? Just put the A1200 motherboard in the tower case and use a keyboard adaptor to connect your A1200 keyboard to it -> this way you'll only have one cable between tower case and A1200 case and there won't be any problems with cable lengths.

If you don't want to use a PCI bus board (which is also available for A1200 computers that are not equipped with a PPC accellerator btw.), you can use pretty much any tower (a long as it's big enough) and place it in the case any way you like. Just remove some parts of the cases's backplane (like the slot cage) to feed your cables (serial, parallel, joy+mouse ec.) to the A1200's ports.
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: MrZammler on November 08, 2002, 12:11:32 PM
@MacMiga

ok, I completelly agree with you on this one. I do too like the desktop A1200 case very much, and a PC tower is too damn ugly to host my miggy. So here's the deal:

1) Get a 2,5 hard disk and put it in.
2) Get a BPPC
3) Get a BVision, and get the vga cable to the back of the 1200.
4) I think it is also possible to stick an internal cd-rom (one from a laptop) inside the desktop A1200 case.

Now, providing that you can keep the whole thing cool, you'll have yourself a kick ass amiga, and forget about cables extending through the back, sideways, etc.
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: Doobrey on November 08, 2002, 04:50:47 PM
@MacMiga
  Sorry, my fault I did misread the original post.

Now I understand the question (I hope) I do have another point...
 IDE cables are only meant to be used internally. Not that there`s anything against hanging them outta the back and into an "expansion tower".
 For a start, they aren`t shielded, so you could get noise/interference into the data signals.
 Also, AFAIK the maximum recommended length of and IDE cable is about 30 cm. Using a buffered interface wont help extend the useable length, but it will save your CPU if something goes wrong.

 Your idea of sitting the 1200 ontop of the AT case is a good idea, cos that`ll minimize cable length.
Also, you get the ability to power the 1200 from the AT PSU and get rid of the stupid CBM power brick.
 Personally I`d use SCSI in this situation, since it`s faster and can take more devices.

So, yes, it`s a perfectly possible project. AFAIK there were even commercially available case conversions that just held the drives and supplied power.
 
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: Doobrey on November 08, 2002, 05:02:54 PM
Quote

WarPiper wrote:

Come on Doobrey, you cant be serious, you dont think it nice to mod up the dull boring case? give me a brake  .


Yeah, modding up cases is great, I`m in the process of sticking my A4000  into a monster PC server case.
 Doing a nice simple spray job on the case (metallic blue) and changing all the LED`s on the case, CD, Zip drive and floppy to use those funky blue LED`s and changing all the fans to be quiet as possible (damn A4000 sounds like a hairdryer at the moment !)

The point I meant was that I can`t see the point in the perspex windows that seems to be all the rage.

 Who was it that first said "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder "? cos I suppose that applies to computer cases as much as it does to painting, sculptures etc  
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: The_Editor on November 08, 2002, 09:27:32 PM
Hey doobrey, your right..

Different strokes and all that.

So heres a piccie of the tower without the perspex window.(http://www.thermaltake.com/images/products/cases/6000/Case6000.gif)  And heres the black one again without the window(http://www.thermaltake.com/images/products/cases/5000/case5000a.jpg)

Btw... MacMiga,  I was winding you up !!   :-D

Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: Doobrey on November 08, 2002, 11:04:19 PM
@ The Editor

 Wow, those cases look like a great starting point.

I can just imagine blue light coming from behind the bottom louvres, and a bright VFD display where that silly little LCD one is on the top.
 Not sure about the big "X" panel, ..maybe put in a drive window like the 4000T had.
 Maybe even a big blue butterfly painted on the side ;)
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: on November 09, 2002, 12:56:55 AM
Firstly I'll appologise for being such a stroppy sox. I was tired the other night. Hard day, sore fingers (from PSU hacking and soldering) and a headache from the fumes.

@Ed

Now even I could possibly be dragged into this tower case conversation! That Al Xaser II 6000 is a pukka case. Personally however I'd be too tempted to build a phat PC in it instead :-D Imagine an emulated Amiga running on an AthlonXP 2600+ in there, through Windows 2000. I suppose an AmigaONE G3/G4/700 would be faster though but hey ;-)

As for your wind up I'm not amused :-o:-P ;-)

@Doobrey

Hows about using 80-conductor high density ATA cable. It is screened (every wire is seperated by a screen wire to reduce cross-talk between wires) and I imagine it would make longer distance possible with slower IDE buses, like that on the A1200.

@Everyone generally

I have the AT Desktop case for the external chassis. Who said I was using a tower - I'm sure I said I was using a Desktop. You guys must have a fixation with tall rigid things or something ;-)

I managed to rig my A600 so the floppy was i nthe PC case and I had the floppy cable sticking out of the bottom of the trapdoor. From there I plugged an old extension cable I had from a PC project in tot the floppy drive and brought it out of one of the 5.25" bay holes i nthe front. The two cables *just* meet with very little to spare. Can't really test any further than 'oh the machine sees the floppy' as I have no bootdisks whatsoever.

I had another thought. What if I put a 44-pin cable as far as the trapdoor bay on the A1200 (I'm not likely to put  anything in it for a while) then lead 80-conductor cable from the buffer card to the drives i nthe AT case? The buffer card *may* act as a booster allowing me to run two lengths of cable instead of one long one. Dunno, have to give it a shot. I have an old IDE disk that was loitering in this case so I'll try it with that first.

Has anyone developed on of those drive hammering programs that tests the reliabil8ity of your IDE bus? you know the sorts, that transfer a huge file back and forth a defined number of times and compare it to see if it's being corrupted.

It's all a bit new and novel to me this Amiga thing. I'm trying to learn as fast as I can. That said I am considered one of the foremost authoriries in the worls on Mac LCs and I've only had any 68k Macs for about a year so I learn very fast :-)
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: The_Editor on November 09, 2002, 03:38:14 PM
Sounds like  your'd like this kind of case for your desktop  (http://wuarchive.wustl.edu/~aminet/pix/trace/AMIGA-fantasy2.jpg)

Me too. !!
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: on November 09, 2002, 05:01:59 PM
Now that is more LIKE it, somebody buy a plastic maoudlking firm and start turning out blanks and we can sell them as upgrade cassis for the A1200, with optional CD drive, CatWeasel'd floppy and a 4GB 3.5" hard disk. I think most A1200 owners in my situation would lap that up.  We could make it sizable enough to to take an Apollo 1260 or Shark PPC card and a BVision or similar video add on. What a fantasy indeed...
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: The_Editor on November 09, 2002, 05:07:02 PM
Not a bad idea...  Amazing that No-one has done that already.  

Might be a bit late now though with Pegasos & A1 imminent.
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: Ryu on November 09, 2002, 07:22:55 PM
Man I love the case, the more I look the more I want :) Imagine a nice G3700 with nice onboard sound and gfx in there with a CDRW drive and a 20gig drive couple with OS4.0 :)
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: Doobrey on November 09, 2002, 11:19:11 PM
Quote

MacMiga wrote:
@Doobrey

Hows about using 80-conductor high density ATA cable. It is screened (every wire is seperated by a screen wire to reduce cross-talk between wires) and I imagine it would make longer distance possible with slower IDE buses, like that on the A1200.


I have heard of people using std 40pin IDC cabling upto 80cm in length without problems, I even heard of someone using a 1.5m cable (but it trashed the data on his **customers** new HD , just after he wiped their old one!! )

Cross talk is only part of the problem, using an 80wire ATA cable might help in this respect, but not in others.
 It won`t protect you from outside interference, so the data on your HD could still get trashed along the way.

 At the end of the day, the main factor in the length of cable you can use will be the quality of the buffered IDE interface.

 I`m not an electrical engineer(as testified when my A1200 went up in flames a few years back, but she still runs :-) ), but as I understand it, a cheap and nasty interface might not have the guts to drive the signals at the proper logic levels over a longer cable.


Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: on November 10, 2002, 12:44:22 AM
@Doobrey

Quote

At the end of the day, the main factor in the length of cable you can use will be the quality of the buffered IDE interface.

I`m not an electrical engineer(as testified when my A1200 went up in flames a few years back, but she still runs  ), but as I understand it, a cheap and nasty interface might not have the guts to drive the signals at the proper logic levels over a longer cable.



If I had the money to buy an Apollo 1260 or a PPC card with SCSI I would do it that way and drop the cables out of the trapdoor. I don't so this will have to suffice, I just hope it works reliabley :-)

FWIW Power Computing do sell 44-pin to 40-pin 80cm cables. I think you require a buffered interface to use them.

That is what EyeTech's page said. Basically if you don't use one that is built properly and buffered (many are sold as buffered when they are actually not apparently) thay restrict the cable length. So if I buy one from EyeTech that is supposed to be able to support longer cables then I can hold them to ransom  :-D

I think i need to talk to EyeTech about it really.

@MrZammler

I actually offered up the CD drive out of my iBook ( removeed as dead and awaiting replacement) and I recon if you put the drive in the side above the PCMCIA alost towawrds the back a laptop CD drive woulf fit a 600 or 1200. They are really thin but quite wide, about 5mm wider than a CD. The hard disk is already doable but it might get in the way of the CD drive unless you trim off those things that stick up off of the drive carrier (at least they do on a 600 - I don't have a 1200 to look at yet). The PC is a goer but sadly sources here tell me the BVision card won't fit in the Trapdoor bay with the PPC card.
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: WarPiper on November 11, 2002, 01:10:35 AM
Not for nothing editor, but that really should have been what the 1200 should have looked like. If my 1200 came with a 10GB had drive and the cdrw rom drive (like shown in the picture) with the floppy on the other side, not to mention a 060 ppc blizerd and a bvision card all in that little attractive case, then I would have been happy.  I have always thought that that was a wonderful concept picture for the 1200.  It would be nice if there was a way of commisioning some modler to create a case like that after that design, just with enough room to acccommodate the bvision and blizzerd 060 ppc, I would order one.
Title: Re: Cheap A$$ tower kit alternative for 1200??
Post by: The_Editor on November 11, 2002, 09:53:20 PM
Well,  My Thermaltake Xaser 5000 case was delivered today.........

In a word

Beautiful !!

It actually has FIVE silent fans installed  :-o   Nifty cables to put firewire & USB sockets on the front, top panel.

Half a shops worth of nuts & bolts

and .......................................................

A free mousemat & Euro calculator (Wow)

Cant wait to start building my new Ami ....

But it is sorely tempting to stick a screaming Athlon in there.  (If only berniethlon were to be released)